Thursday, December 21, 2017

Moving the Needle

Do you know what's great about life? You live, and you learn! After ankle surgery, diving into rehabing, back to work, and the end of a school term made me fall off the blogging wagon for a few weeks. But, a few great friends have reminded me to get in gear. I've learned that (as we discussed in the personal mission statement blog), it's my responsibility to direct my life and priorities. So I'm granting myself some grace and picking back up!

A lot is happening with the holiday season upon, planning, cooking, cleaning, the list goes on and on. The irony is this the time of year we always hope to relax, revive, and prepare for the year ahead. Somehow, I always manage to look back wondering how I achieved none of those objectives as I roll back into work commencing a new year. For more on this, check out the awesome podcast by Chirsty Wright about finding balance.

The Huffington Post claims only 8% of New Year's Resolutions succeed. That is a terrible return on our best-planned investment! We plan, with the best of intentions, and BAM! What happened? Another year is over and another shame-ridden disappointment is upon us. I'm so guilty of this too.

In all really. Okay, maybe not totally.
The GGJSC just launched an aggressive and exciting 5-year strategic plan a couple weeks ago, in which our organization will focus on building new events, resourcing our local event promoters, spreading the awareness of our organization, and a variety of other objectives. Our team and board of directors are pumped to begin implementing these tactics and bring the benefits to fruition in our community. 

One thing I learned through the help of our amazing consultants from the Huddle Up Group, is that lining out a huge list of objectives is well and good, but narrowing the focus to what they call "Powers of 3" can yield more direct results. Here is a great blog Huddle Up Group's Founder and CEO, Jon Schmeider, wrote about the Powers of 3 in leadership development, exemplifying this concept. 

So as you head into the new year, what are the three things you want to focus on - perhaps both personally and professionally - that will help yield progress in place of shame or guilt? We talked about personal mission statements a few weeks ago, and this is a great opportunity to revisit those and tie actionable items to them.

For me, sharing and teaching through writing is an objective important to both my personal and professional life. So here I am, sitting at Starbucks on my first day off for Christmas, dusting myself off and taking a step to ensure at this time next year I'm not looking back at how I let another goal fall by the wayside. I commit that while I know it won't be perfect, I will be better, writing to advance my personal mission statement of using my skills and talents as God desires to positively impact the people and world around me.

Remember, "The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best that you can become." - Harold Taylor

This has been Stoll on Sports. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Why We Watch

It's common knowledge among our friends and family that I am the sports person, and my husband is not. He loves to play sports, and particularly loves outdoor activities such as camping, hunting and mountain biking, but traditional team sports, even though he wrestled and played football in high school (and was really good)...not his thing! A running joke in our house goes something like this: When Stan is asked about sports at any gathering, his response is usually "I don't know, ask my wife!" Kind of a funny way of punching stereotypes in the face.

But, last night, Stan asked me a question, in all seriousness, after we watched about 3 minutes of the Broncos getting their butts kicked, yet again, by the Bengals of all teams! (I can say that, I'm from the 'Nati). 

Here was the question: Why do you watch when you know what's going to happen? 

My simple answer was "hope". Not the grander scale of hope in life, but hope as in wishful thinking. Bengals fans, and now Bronco fans, are just hoping the tide will change. Grant it, the Bronco fans are relatively new to this feeling, but as a Bengals fan growing up, or better yet, Browns fans, there is something inside that thinks maybe this player, this game, this season might be different. 

His follow-up questions were fair. "But if you know they are going to lose, what's the point?", and "People let it ruin their day when their team loses, despite knowing that's likely the outcome." And of course, there may have been a comment about wasting time in there too. :)

But the more I thought about this, I thought about culture, tradition, social networks and emotions.

Hang with me here, but I grew up in the Midwest, where sports - college and pro - are king. We set our watches by it, never missed a game, and cheered, despite PERPETUAL disappointment. I am old enough to remember when the Reds swept the A's in 4 games in the 1990 World Series, however.
I idolized Larkin!

Stan grew up in rural Colorado. College sports is not nearly as big here - I know CU and CSU fans, but face the truth! Plus he grew up in an environment where the mountains were his playground. There is a saying here in Colorado "The mountains are calling, and I must go!" Playing, versus watching, was paramount, whether recreation or sport.

For me, the emotion, the fun of rivalries, the not knowing, the opportunity to see people use their God-given abilities, the sponsor trends/new technology/etc. etc., these are the things I love about watching sports. 

Growing up, it was just what we did. What we talked about. What we bonded over. What we emulated. Not right or wrong. It just was. 

My point here is everyone's upbringing and environment is different. Being raised as a traditional team sports junkie, I'm grateful my 5 year old loves to mountain bike and just accompanied Stan on getting their first buck together. I do ascribe to the belief that doing is much more valuable than watching, no matter what the activity, but balance is key. 
Bring on the jerky!

It boils down to creating memories, no matter what they look like, or how you define it. And, part of the fun is learning what others enjoy and why. I'm grateful for a husband who respects my passions and has interest enough to understand. And I'm grateful he at least agreed to sign the contract pledging this allegiance to the Ohio State Buckeyes upon marrying into our family. 

It's OSU/xICHIGAN week (Go Bucks!). But most importantly, it's Thanksgiving, and if we give it just a few minutes, I bet we can all think of an impressive list of things we can be thankful for in our own lives.

This is Stoll on Sports. Remember, it's not joy that makes us thankful. It's gratitude that makes us joyful! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

No better time than now!

In the spirit of celebrating successes, I'm going to share a blog I wrote for Healthy Mesa County just a couple weeks ago. The numbers changed slightly (we ended with 565 registrants!), but the moral holds true...set your eyes on something you think is beyond your ability then GO GET IT! Whether sports, career, fitness, education, or any other aspect of your life, the greatest rewards lie after the greatest challenge. Harsh truth, I know.

In my September Healthy Mesa County blog, I touched on my feelings regarding the special place we live and work, and our unparalleled quality of life. One way we can enjoy what our community has to offer is through the plethora of amazing events that take place across Mesa County on any given day.

I’m going to give you clues to see if you can name a certain event in the Grand Valley. This event has been around since the 1990s. It has been voted one of the most beautiful events of its kind. It has also been voted one of the most challenging events of its kind (we’ll circle back to this point). This event is local and 100% of proceeds benefit a local non-profit and student athlete scholarships. Last clue, it used to be held “gate to gate” on the Monument, but now it’s a full 26.2 miles.

If you guessed the US Bank Rim Rock Run, you are correct!

The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission (GGJSC) and Colorado Mesa University Track & Field and Cross Country programs are only one week way from hosting the US Bank Rim Rock Marathon on November 4th. The event, has an interesting history in the Grand Valley, one our organizations hope to continue into the future for a variety of reasons.

Lets take a quick minute to dive into why.

In 2013, when the GGJSC first got involved, the event consisted of approximately 140 participants. It grew to more than 400 by 2016. As I type, the current registration count is a whopping 505! (we ended with 565) I’m not a math person, but I think that’s around a 260% growth in 4 years! Here’s the kicker…we spent zero dollars marketing it in 2017. Yes, that is correct, ZERO.

I believe the event has grown for a variety of reasons, including  because our product is great. You can’t pick a better course than over Rim Rock Drive. We strived to make it a community event in downtown Fruita with a beer garden, vendors, live music and more. We listened to our customers and added a half marathon option (good idea, as 386 of those 505 are registered for the half), and good ol’ word of mouth marketing has spread our message for us.
Colorado National Monument (Courtesy: Visit Grand Junction)

Here are the facts from our current registration. We have participants from three countries (USA, UK and Romania) and 31 states. More than 35% of participants are between the ages of 30 and 39. Two thirds of all participants are females. A standard measure of distance in the tourism world is 50 mile radius, and at that mark, 70% are non-locals (meaning they plan to travel more than 50 miles to participate) and 30% are considered locals (reside within a 50 mile radius). Each participation brings an average of 2.5 spectators.

So what does this mean?

From an economic impact perspective, we love to see the high non-local participation numbers. Participants – and those who come with them – bring much appreciated “new money” into our economy through taxes derived from staying in our hotels, dining in our restaurants and visiting our attractions. In an ideal world, they even make plans to return! Industry statistics from the National Association of Sports Commissions say that for a market of our size, each visitor spends between $168 and $221 per day. Our goal with non-local participants is to welcome them with Western Slope hospitality.
Courtesy: Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Often sports commission stop right there. Not the case with us. Although we love the non-local participation, the 30% local participation number, is bothersome to me. I want our sports commission to provide opportunities for local participation just as importantly as non-local participation.

Yes, the Rim Rock is challenging, BUT, I have seen every running level finish both the half and the full. My fondest Rim Rock memory is of a woman who walked the entire marathon – her first – and crossed the finish line with her two kids and husband by her side in tears of joy.

If you didn’t register for our event or others this year, that’s certainly fine. However, if you’ve been considering setting a goal to participate in the Rim Rock or any other, let me encourage you that there is no better time than now. There are so many wonderful events in our community and great resources such as Healthy Mesa County, running clubs, the CMU Kinesiology Lab, and others that can help you plan and encourage you along the way.

Remember the old quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Who knows, you may be the one crossing the finish line proving to yourself that you CAN do the unimaginable!

Check out more at the Finish Area for the US Bank Rim Rock Run in Downtown Fruita’s Circle Park on Saturday, November 4th from 10am to 3pm. (Thanks to those who joined us!)

So, put away your phone - yes, like place it on a table and walk into another room! - and spend a few quiet minutes in solitude thinking about that wild inner ambition you have. Enlist some encouraging friends to help, take the first step, enjoy the process, and go remind yourself just how awesome you truly are!

This is Stoll on Sports.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

For the Love of Sports!

Happy post-Game 7 haze! Before we jump into this week's musings, I did not forget about the challenge I threw out last week: develop a personal mission statement.

I went back and did some digging to when I first started - and apparently never completed - this task.

Lesson 1: If you start a personal mission statement and never finish it, you can all but guarantee you won't live by it! (See Zig quote below).

So, after giving myself a little grace, I dove back in. Probably 15 versions later, I still don't know if I'm 100% satisfied with the outcome. But it is way closer than when I started last week (it's a process, right?). Here it is:
My personal mission statement is to use my skills and talents as God desires to positively impact the people and world around me. 

To me, this encompasses making the most of where I am at any given point - work, home, etc., and realizing my gifts can be used in all those settings, if I have the courage to use them.

I hope you took some time to work on your personal mission statement as well. As Zig Ziglar said "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."

Switching gears now, DID ANYONE WATCH THAT WORLD SERIES?! What an awesome series featuring two great ball teams.

Houston Astros Clinched the World Series in last night's Game 7
I must admit, for a doctoral sport management student, I watch very minimal sports anymore. Maybe because I'm a full-time student, executive director, mother and wife, and maybe because in order to watch Game 7 my husband literally had to climb on the roof and move our antenna. Can you say stone age? When we moved to the country, we nixed cable or satellite. I know, we're cord cutting rebels without a cause!

Despite not being glued to the TV every game like I used to be (I think my husband has implemented a secret 10-year master plan to ween me from my sports obsession...and it's working), during this time being laid up, I've gotten to watch the Buckeye's amazing come-from-behind win over Penn State and 5 or 6 World Series games.

Now follow me for a second here, because I know there are lots of broken-hearted Dodger fans across America this morning, as there were Penn State fans on Saturday afternoon.
Celebration at the Shoe when OSU knocked off PSU

But isn't that what sports are all about? It's like community. It's the diversity and differences in all of us that make it unique. If everyone rooted for the same team, there would be no point. It would be like watching the Harlem Globetrotters day in and day out.

It's because of our different preferences that we get rivalries, anxiety and a little friendly trash-talking from friends on social media.

In sport academia, James and Funk (2006) proposed the psychological continuum model in which individuals move from aware of a team, to attracted, then attached and ultimately form an allegiance. We all started to follow a team or individual player somewhere, at sometime.
Psychological Continuum Model (Funk & James, 2006)

But, the fun doesn't end because my team or your team won. Sports can be symbolic for a community, too. With all Houston has been through these last few months with Hurricane Harvey, sports can provide the glimmer of hope, a distraction, a common bond, that transcends circumstances in a community.

Just like the Red Sox winning the World Series after the Boston Marathon bombing, or the Saints winning the Super Bowl after Hurricane Katrina, the motivation to win grows even stronger. Here is a great Washington Post article highlighting this affect.

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune
To me, this is what makes sports so endearing. Sure, there are always the scandals, greedy athletes and unethical controversies that spark up in competitive sports. But such as with any competitive and financially driven industry. I'm in no way condoning these actions, merely suggesting that we must make a decision to find, and stand behind the good. The whole baby and bathwater cliche applies nicely here.

Some days our favorite teams and players win, some days they lose, but the broader impact on the world in which we live is why I love sports. After all, let's not forget, right now in the city of Houston - just like in other places across the nation and world - there are still people reeling from tragedy, long after the rest of the world has unfortunately moved on.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What's Your Personal Mission Statement?

Happy Wednesday from the other side of ankle reconstruction surgery. I've been pretty restricted on recovery activities to this point, which sounds like a holiday, but let me assure you, it is not. Especially with two littles running rampant!

Needless to say, I've had a little time to think - which is a dangerous proposition in light of the pain meds - but now that I'm out of my Percocet stupor, I'm diving into Entrepreneurship class and doing some excellent reading. I've always been fascinated by business and the start-up of the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission has truly been an entrepreneurial effort. At any one time, I am usually at various points in at least one Audible book, one Kindle book and just because my free time abounds, a good ol' fashion hard copy book as well. More frequently than not, these books are related to some aspect of business.

You may consider my philosophy akin to casting a wide fishing net. In my case, I read a couple books a month outside of class, with the hopes that I'll reel in at least a few fish - or bits of knowledge - that I can mull over and potentially apply in some area of my life, whether personal or professional.

Photo Credit: Will Gervais
I strongly believe the aggregate of the information helps shape who we are and how we live.

In entrepreneurship class this week we are starting to develop our mission and vision for our business plan project. I have a specific project in mind (I'm not going to spoil the surprise yet). But it got me thinking from my  couch-ridden state...

I've formulated a mission and vision for the sports commission from its onset. And, right now our organization is working with some amazing consultants from Phoenix-based Huddle Up Group to revisit and refine our overall strategic plan, inclusive of mission and vision. It's one thing to develop a business-related mission and vision, but another to develop a personal mission statement.

Enter Stephen Covey Habit #2 in his acclaimed 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

Dave Ramsey also has an excellent book, called Entreleadership, in which he discusses both facets of missions and visions, personal and professional. I know I probably made a half-hearted attempt at a personal mission statement when reading Entreleadership the first time many years ago, but it's time for a revisit.

I don't know about you, but I need daily reminders of priorities and the direction my ship (personal and professional) is pointed. I'm constantly reminding our key stakeholders, employees, student workers, board members and others that the overarching goal of the sports commission is to make a difference in our community's economy and quality of life through sport...but what about me?

What's my personal mission statement? Does having one help hone my time, priorities, and likely result in better overall quality of life (and likely productivity)?

I contend it does. So I'm issuing a challenge.

One I'm taking on myself. I challenge my readers (believe it or not, there are a few hundred of you now), to spend some time this week formulating your personal mission statement. This isn't just "I want to be a rocket scientist", this is how do you want your time here in this crazy life defined?

I will do the same, and I will post mine in Stoll on Sports next week. Regardless if you are a student intern or the GM of the LA Dodgers, personal mission statements are absolutely imperative.

I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday and we were talking about how sometimes in this circus of life, you can blink and realize that your life is being steered by demands, not driven by you. Creating a personal mission statement is one way to take control and articulate in real, well-thought-out words, the foundation of your life.

Some other great friends of ours run a Christian retreat camp in the beautiful San Juan mountains and wrote a book called The View from the Rocking Chair. I encourage you to check it out as it's all about how you will reflect on your life when you are old and rocking on your front porch (boy, do I look forward to those days!).

Additional resources on mission statements are below.

Until next time, this is been Stoll on Sports. Ponder this quote by the famous Zig Ziglar "Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission."

Personal (and professional) Mission Statement Resources:
Happy writing (and likely re-writing!)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sports = Innovation

Remember those little crafts you used to make in elementary school where you'd glue little loops of construction paper together like pieces of a chain and tear them off day-by-day as a countdown toward something special like Christmas break or Field Day? Well, I haven't resorted to that system of checking academic terms off my list, but my home office whiteboard contains a barely more sophisticated version. 
Paper chain by someone more crafty than me
Yesterday I got to check off my 6th term out of 8 total (just coursework, dissertation will require actual construction paper loops and glue sticks). I have three academic courses left in this journey that both feels like it just started yesterday, and yet also feels like it has been moving as slowly as molasses in winter (as my relatives like to say). 

This term I'm embarking on Research Methods and Entrepreneurship in Sport. Despite my better judgement, the shimmery lure of going full-time and getting this done is too enticing to drop to one class. Plus, I really want to cross those terms off my whiteboard!

I'm super excited about these courses as one is going to help me begin to mold my dissertation topic (stay tuned for more on that), and the other, entrepreneurship, is of personal interest to me, especially as I got to start the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission essentially from scratch. 

I've done a lot of thinking lately about leveraging the sports commission in to even greater social impact for our community. I think this course will help me lay a foundation to do just that. In our first readings, we learned about the very nature of sport being innovative and entrepreneurial in spirit. Read Sports Business Journal, Sporting News or SportTechie on a weekly basis to continue to be amazed by the concepts emerging. 

Photo: Sports Business Insider
In sport, we have a unique opportunity to leverage our products for the greater good. Sports, by their nature, are community driven. Check out the awesome WIN for KC program developed by colleagues at the Kansas City Sports Commission, as an example. 

Seriously, who doesn't love the Globetrotters?
We've talked a lot about consumption driving sports, and that also makes them communal. What I mean is, I believe sports creates a common bond, sense of community and shared values. Regardless of background, political persuasion or religious preference, sport can unite vastly different groups of people. If you are an Ohio State Buckeye fan, you're a Buckeye fan. Period. If you're a Michigan fan, well then, sorry. 

I'm kidding about that last part (kind of). 

I've held true to the position that if we all rooted for the same teams, sports would lose their intrigue (and probably their existence)...unless you're the Harlem Globetrotters, but that is more novelty entertainment. By the way, did you know the last time the Harlem Globetrotters lost was in 1971? 

Let me jump this train back on the track. The sports world is advancing at warp speed changing the way we participate and consume sports. As such, it's also changing the very fabric of our community. It's an exciting time, indeed!

I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes about innovation from two well-known innovators. This has been Stoll on Sports.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Saying Farewell (to the mandatory posts)

View out my window right now
If I'm being honest, I will admit that I have thought about blogging for quite some time. I had flirted with the concept of putting some of my thoughts and ideas out there for the world to see. The thought of doing so put a fear in me that had never allowed me to take the next step.

It's funny how things work out. Little did I know my strategic communication and emerging media course would force me to step into the unknown. At times I can be one of those people who prefer to stand on the dock, looking out to the horizon for the boat, then when the boat is tied up to the dock, I'm still reluctant to step aboard. I have to be diligent to put my feet out in the water and swim before I see.

I'm married to a "jump-off-the-dock-and-swim-until-a-boat-appears" kind of guy. And I love that about him. He's fearless and courageous, and importantly, he encourages me. He laughed when I told him I had to write one blog per week for this course. His laugh wasn't at me, it was at the fact that he'd known I had already contemplated doing it but hadn't taken the leap.

Some of my unease was rooted in uncertainty. Ironically, what I've found through this process is that blogging has become an enjoyable outlet for me. It's a time, once a week, to learn, reflect, ponder and try to make sense of topics. It reminds me of volunteering. Often the volunteer is left feeling more blessed that the recipient of his or her service.

While this marks the end of my mandatory weekly blog posts, my hope is that it's only the beginning of Stoll on Sports. I plan to broaden the topics addressed from communications to other areas, focus more on the sport context, and not lose sight of what's truly important. The posts may come a little less frequently, but I hope you'll join me as I continue down this journey that has been so rewarding.

And with that, I'm going to go enjoy this bluebird fall Colorado day! Until next time, this is Stoll on Sports. 

"I believe the children are our future"

Does anyone remember those timeless lyrics from the late Whitney Houston? Maybe I'm dating myself a bit here, but I still do love that song, and frankly, any Whitney Houston song.

"I believe the children are our future" the intro line to the song Greatest Love of All.

Simple. True. Timeless.

This song lyric transcends generations because no matter where we are at a point in time, at some point our future is in the hands of our children. In my humble opinion, it's our job to set them up for a future of success.

But how do we do that in a world riddled by tragedy, information overload and ever-changing technology?

This week's topic focuses on children and media. It's a heavy topic for sure. Especially during a week like our nation has seen with the Las Vegas tragedy following up destruction of natural disasters, and any number of other recent headlines in news and sports.

As a parent, these can be a difficult waters to navigate. We desire to protect our children, but also raise them to be aware and independent thinkers. When my kids were babies it was much easier to shield them from the negativity. They are only just about 4 and 5 and a half, and it is more and more difficult as they are more perceptive, learning to read and striving to understand the world around them.

Gopnik (2012) discussed what babies think about in her Ted talk. Interestingly, she noted that as young as 18 months, babies begin to understand we all like different things and they can help give someone what they prefer. Fifteen month old babies cannot decipher this complexity yet. I mentioned a few weeks ago how much brain development occurs in the first year of life.

And it doesn't stop there.

As outlined by the University of Rochester Medical Center (2017), the frontal cortex - which is responsible for rational thought - does not fully develop until the age of 25 or so.

I have a dear friend, with kids older than my own, that reminds us often that our kids can't make the decisions we expect of them because their brains simply aren't developed. In other words, they don't know what they don't know. She is also wonderful to realize that she is key aiding that development.

So where does all these leave us in the dynamic world of emerging media?

The internet brings with it a vast playground for development of self-awareness and self-expression among youth (Davis, 2010), not to mention the plethora of (good and not good) information available at their finger tips.

Let's take a second for me to be really clear: I'm not speaking to my opinion on what is right or wrong in terms of parenting style or parameters. I'm just talking about youth and media broadly.

In 2006, 54% of bloggers were under the age of 30 (Davis, 2010). According to Sysomos (2017), the proportion from ages 21-35 is 53.3%, but importantly slightly more than 20% of bloggers are 20 years of age or younger.

Did you get that? One-fifth of bloggers are have barely blown out the candles on their 20th birthday cake, nor can they legally buy a Coors Light.

As Davis (2010) asserted, bloggers are literally coming of age online. Her research on the development of online "profiles" noted that online, you can be anything you want to be, just like the Brad Paisley song of the same title.
Brad Paisley "Online"

However, and somewhat relieving, her research indicates that the female subjects of her study portrayed a similar profile both in online portrayal and offline identity.

So at least for that study, the young ladies were not pretending to be something they aren't. Although, actual identity and profile were not distinguished as either positive or negative. At least they weren't hiding it.

The tale should be cautionary, however. Livingstone (2008) commented on that vast playground mentioned earlier. Through social media, adolescents need to use rational thought to determine who they let into their world, what information they share, the emotions they portray, and how they respond to others.

...the same rational thought that we learned, is not fully developed until around 25 years old.

To my astute friend's point, how can we expect them to decipher what is and is not appropriate?

The issues with youth and media are not limited to social media behavior, but also news media and learning.

We already examined the struggles facing traditional news media outlets way back in August. Now we must look at news media consumption by the next generation.

Those in my generation may have a great advantage in that we are well-versed in traditional media outlets (radio and newspaper), but are also a part of ushering in the newest news technology. We can safely ride the line between new and old in a customized fashion. I still read our local newspaper (albeit online, behind a paywall...I know, I know), but get national and sport-related news notifications on my smartphone.

This won't be the case for younger generations. Unlike even my elder counterparts, news media consumption patterns of today's youth are focused on two elements: relevance and customization (Huang, 2009).

If capturing this critical audience is important, then catering to their desired consumption behaviors should be paramount. Settling for status quo cannot be an option.

Let's jump back to the learning process. Mitra (2007) conducted a series of experiments in which he placed computers with internet access or CD-ROMs (all content in English) in remote locations in India. What he found was that in groups, children taught themselves not only how to use the devices, but they also taught themselves the English words necessary to use them and communicate about them. With no learning structure, adult supervision or other influences.

Mitra's experiment in process
We see this in sport as well. When left to their own accord, kids will use their imagination to create games, agree on rules, and self-govern. So what do we do? We jump in and produce organized sport with coaches and structured practice, and tournaments from the ripe age of 3 or 4.

Fixing something that isn't broken? Perhaps.

While the frontal cortex may not be fully developed, there is no doubt development is still occurring at an exponential rate.

So what do we make of all of this?

The next line of the Whitney Houston song mentioned at the beginning of this post is "Teach them well and let them lead the way."

I think that's what we, as parents and community members, can do. We can agree to do our best to bring positivity to this world, help our children learn, and do our part to lay the foundation so they can become the leaders of the future.

I apologize to my sports junkies out there that feel neglected this week, but it was a lofty topic. We'll pick back up with more sports next week. Until then, how about we all go out and do a random act of kindness today. This has been Stoll on Sports.


Davis, K. (2010). Coming of age online: The developmental underpinnings of girls’ blogs. Journal of Adolescent Research, 25(1), 145-171.

Huang, E. (2009). The causes of youths’ low news consumption and strategies for making youths happy news consumers. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 15(1), 105-122.

Gopnik, A. (July 2011). What do babies think? Retrieved from

Livingstone, S. (June 2008). Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: Teenagers’ use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy, and self-expression. New Media and Society, 10(3), 393-411.

Mitra, S. (Februrary 2007). Kids can teach themselves. Retrieved from

Sysomos. (2017). Inside blogger demographics: Data by gender, age, etc. Retrieved from

University of Rochester Medical Center. (2017). Understanding the teen brain. Retrieved from

Friday, September 29, 2017

Oh the Irony

Do you ever feel like two obscure things come together at highly ironic times? That’s how I feel about the assigned topic for this week and the top sports headlines in the media right now.

This week’s topic is brand reputation…the good, the bad and the ugly.

I attended a tourism conference last year and the keynote speaker was CBS travel correspondent Peter Greenberg. During his address, he took a clever jab at the domestic airline industry quipping that the collective slogan of the industry should be “Airlines, where we’re not happy until you’re not happy!” I thought this was brilliant at the time, given the dismal service that has come to be expected by many of the top domestic carriers. And that was before the video went viral showing a United passenger being drug off a plane.
Peter Greenberg. Photo Credit CBS News

Building – and even more importantly, maintaining – a strong brand reputation is not an overnight objective. It takes years to cultivate the image and requires continued, diligent effort on the part of a person or organization (Conner, 2014).

As Rosendale (2015) pointed out, effective branding can build transparency, stakeholder interaction and involvement, speed/cost/credibility and market expansion. These are the positive outcomes of branding. According to Rosendale (2015), branding is about selling the organization, not the organization’s products. I tend to agree.

As an organization behaves consistently, so is it perceived. This goes for personal brands too, in which an intentional image is built around an individual. The trick is that, whether a personal or organizational brand, these are fluid in nature. In essence, perception of brand is in the eye of the beholder (Sutherland, 2009). The goal is to build credibility, and keep consumers coming back (Rosendale, 2015).

Brand reputation has never been more valuable than now, in the era of the digital revolution.
Now, marketers and strategic communicators have the ability to listen and watch the conversations taking place about their organization, engage with consumers like never before, and ideally, be proactive in portraying a brand.

64% of our time online is spent on social media (Fulgoni & Lipsman, 2014). Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about the average of five hours per day spent on social media? What’s almost comical is in the same article from 2014, Fulgoni and Lipsman noted how video was lagging behind…I highly doubt they’d report the same findings today, a mere three years later.

Digital branding efforts ensure that dollars are being spent on direct efforts to reach precise audiences (Fulgoni & Lipsman, 2014). Social media comes with the potential to engage a massive audience with minimal cost (Rosendale, 2015). Possibly the biggest cost is not utilizing these tools. Check out a great video by Erik Qualman about use of social media for organizations:

We have a small-scale example of this here in Grand Junction for our Rim Rock Marathon. We spend a minimal amount marketing the event, but we have such specific data about our participants, that we know exactly who to target in our promotion. We do just that and we’ve seen incredible success with it.

Photo from the 2015 Rim Rock Marathon

Imagine big corporations. With access to big data, multiple platforms and exorbitant resources. Is it possible marketers know more about us, and likely our spending patterns, than we know about ourselves?

“With an integrated view of campaigns and the appropriate multi-platform data, however, media planners can use osmosis between channels to ensure that dollars are being optimally allocated” (Fulgoni & Lipsman, 2014, p. 15). Say WHAT?

Data-driven marketing and branding are here to stay.

So what about the flip side? We’ve only looked at the good (depending on who you ask) side of brand reputation, but what happens when it hits the fan, so to speak?

Sports is seeing this right now, regularly. Especially *sigh* my alma mater, University of Louisville. And, the NFL.

Apparently, after the headlines in the sports world the last few weeks, I would have been wise to save my plug for Dr. Daniel Diermeier’s book Reputation Rules for this week. But I’ll bring it back up again now.
Read this book!

Every organization should be aware of potential communications crises. Take Louisville again. I’m thinking right about now they are retaining a high-dollar crisis communications expert. Probably way too late, as they’ve been plagued by bad press in recent months. (On a side note, Louisville is still a great school, with wonderful academic programs and I loved my time there, so it is truly unfortunate to see what is happening.)

The thing is, with the plethora of information available and the warp-speed at which it can travel, no person or organization is immune from a communications crisis. Remember up above I said building brand reputation requires behavioral consistency to change perception. Louisville has a long road ahead to restore its reputation. While immediate intervention is an absolute must, brick by brick the institution must rebuild its reputation over the long haul.
Rick Pitino

Another unfortunate aspect of a brand reputation crisis is the domino affect it has on innocent bystanders. In the case of Louisville, the current – albeit not the only recent – controversy primarily centers on the athletic program. Due to the high profile stature of the program, I would venture to guess the institution might see decline in total admissions as an additional fallout of this federal probe.

If this happens, the impact can trickle to student fees, development dollars, and the like. The scope of scandal may be far broader than just the men’s basketball program.

Jumping back to the personal brand side of things. There is no doubt the personal brand of soon-to-be-former coach Rick Pitino has and will suffer greatly. If there is any silver lining to this entire saga – which  I believe is just the tip of the iceberg – it is the chance for a valuable learning lesson.

There has been no more respected coach in men’s college basketball than the late John Wooden. One of my favorite quotes from Wooden goes like this, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

And we are back to an interesting irony, just the way we started this blog. Two of the most successful basketball coaches of all focused on character and departs as a legend, the other focused on reputation and departs as a fraud. If only the later would have heeded the advice of the former.

Perhaps this week’s concept should not be called “brand reputation” at all. Perhaps, we should take the lead from the good coach and call it “brand character” instead. Modern sports could use more good guys like Coach Wooden.

This has been another edition of Stoll on Sports. Thanks again for riding along!


Conner, C. (March 2014). Top online reputation management tips for brand marketers. Forbes. Retrieved from

Fulgoni, G. & Lipsman, A. (2014). Digital game changers: How social media will help usher in the era of mobile and multi-platform campaign-effectiveness measurement. Journal of Advertising Research, 54(1), 11-16. Doi: 10.2501/jar-54-1-011-016

Rosen, N. (January 2013). Fundamentals of personal branding. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Rosendale, J. A. (2015). New communication technologies in organization communications and branding: The integral role social media now play. The Florida Communication Journal, 43(2), 49-59.

Sutherland, R. (July 2009). Life lessons from an ad man. Retrieved from

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Time to Celebrate Our Community

I had the honor of serving as a guest blogger for Healthy Mesa County this week, in conjunction with a fun event that organization, and my organization (the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission) are hosting tomorrow, Sept. 27. It is the inaugural Healthy Mesa County Corporate Scurry, geared toward celebrating our community, quality of life, and workforce.

Time to Celebrate our Community - By Jennifer Stoll

Although this isn't for my class assignment, I thought I'd share here on Stoll on Sports as well so you can begin to get a feel for my role, and our organization's role in the community. I hope you enjoy the quick read and brief hiatus from all things communications related!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Crowdsourcing: My Suspicions Are Raised

You’ve heard the phrase “two heads are better than one”…The idea that collaboration and multiple individuals participating in a process can lead to greater results. The essence of collective intelligence as described by Aitamurto, Leiponen, and Tee (2011). This is the foundation of the crowdsourcing revolution. Crowdsourcing sure sounds fancy, doesn’t it?
Sesame Street's Two Headed Monstrer

However, in reality, all you need is two elements 1) an open call and 2) a crowd (Aitamurto et al., 2011).

Some would argue crowdsourcing is a “hype term associated with unrealistic expectations for innovation and unclear of its requirements and challenges” (Aitamurto et al., 2011). Nonetheless, the practice has grown significantly over recent years in a variety of industries, including sports.

Examples of crowdsourcing include Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Procter & Gamble’s Connect + Develop and InnoCentive where everyday people can use their skills to solve real problems for industries and earn money doing so (Howe, 2016).

In my mind, the line between crowdsourcing and user generated content is quite blurry. Crowdsourcing seems to be more task-focused, whereas user generated content can be relatively open in use. EBay (apparently it does still exist) and Wikipedia were listed as examples of user generated content in the readings this week (Howe, 2016).

An article we read this week talked about the t-shirt company Threadless, putting shirt designs out to followers for vote on what was graphic was selected for production. While this might have helped the company boost sales, did it really solve a problem? User voting doesn’t seem to be a novel concept to me. It’s how Major League Baseball has chosen All Stars since the 2002 season.

It makes me wonder if this type of voting system should really be considered crowd sourcing.

Perhaps that is too narrow of a viewpoint. Perhaps, voting and user generated content are approaches existing under the umbrella of crowdsourcing. If this were the case, I’d contend that crowdsourcing is nothing new. Didn’t all of this use to be called customer engagement?

Again, that is probably too na├»ve of a rationale. It’s clear no matter what you call it, the present applications of crowdsourcing are innovating the existing concept.

When it comes to applications in news media, even faster evolution is occurring with mass-producer opportunities, and citizen journalism. In Paul Lewis’ (2011) TED Talk about how mobile phones helped solve two murders, the presenter noted crowd sourcing in the news can hold organizations accountable and also fill a void about the scope of what journalists can possibly know and cover (Lewis, 2011). And that was 6 years ago.

Ultimately, Lewis (2011) exemplified how crowdsourcing can help resource journalists, while highlighting the laborious task of validating and corroborating information coming in. This evolution of technology use will continue to dominate the future. We have seen it already in numerous viral videos that appear each week, thus prompting journalistic stories. Did anyone see the nurse who was arrested in the hospital a few weeks ago? Case in point.

My contention that just maybe crowd sourcing is a pseudonym for customer engagement parallels something I’ve learned about in sport.

NFL Play 60 Initiative
In sport literature, there is growing scholarly work about corporate social responsibilities (CSR), which I discussed in Stoll on Sports a few weeks back. A mentor of mine, and perhaps one of the most notable sport management scholars, Dr. Chelladurai (2016), wrote an excellent article detailing that many times CSR initiatives are actually, what he labeled discretionary social initiatives (DSIs). Basically, his point was that DSIs should be called as such, not guised as solely as sports teams/organizations doing something good for the community.

Dr. Chelladurai: Well-deserving of a blog pic
I believe the same holds true for crowdsourcing. There are times it truly does drive creative and innovating concepts, solve problems, and help an organization. In which times, call it “revolutionary” if you want. Nevertheless, there are other times where it is merely a mechanism for customer engagement.

We learned about this last week when we looked at the Cleveland Indians’ Social Suite where they invite fans and bloggers to positively influence the discourse about the team during games. Is that solving a significant problem for the Indians’ organization? Maybe, but I’d lean toward just a unique fan engagement initiative.

There is also a developmental professional soccer team in the UK who dabbled with allowing fans to vote for the starting lineup. This came up when I performed a Google search on “crowdsourcing in sports”. Truly crowdsourcing? I’ll let you be the judge. What about when the novelty wears off?

Compare this to using crowdsourcing to develop a solution to a problem resulting in a new product, or an industry revolution. Hmmmm…hopefully you see what I’m getting at here.

Let’s look at another sports example. Many of them seem to revolve around voting, as was done by the Toronto Raptors to name their new expansion franchise back in 1995. The Dallas Mavericks turned to their fans to choose a court design for their home games.

I’m not saying that any of these creative approaches are wrong. Rather, I’m asking if they are truly crowdsourcing.
Okay, MAYBE we could have made one better play call!

These concepts are even more interesting in sport due to the extremely high levels of fan engagement. Everyone loves to “Monday morning quarterback”. 

Answer me this, what other industry does the Average Joe feel like he could make better play calls than a head coach? Or even better, can you name another industry where getting cut from your junior varsity team qualifies you to explain to a room full of friends precisely why your team is 1-3 as you chug your fourth Coors Light? I doubt it.

That would be like me telling my husband, a forensic structural engineer, why a building collapsed. It makes no sense! (For the record, I have no clue why buildings collapse, but I’d guess it would have something to do with the words “expansive”, “tension”, or “deterioration”. To me, these just add up to a big “Oh crap!” on someone’s part!).

The point is, these things aren’t bad, let’s just call them what they are.

As we learned this week, many sports organizations even put policies in place to limit the power of social media (Holton & Coddington, 2012).

The last point I want to make here is that crowdsourcing does not ALWAYS yield positive results for an organization. Recently, REI, a huge player in the outdoor apparel and gear industry, launched an ad campaign geared toward acknowledging outdoor enthusiasts and athletes come in all body types. It was an anti-body shaming ad. 
I'm not sure who Seth is, but the quote is on point. Image Courtesy LikeSuccess

Only problem? Their stores are notorious for neglecting to carry plus sizes. Objective: engage consumers to embrace body type. Problem: We don’t offer goods for the body types we are trying to embrace. Result: SOCIALMEDIA FIRESTORM! Major backfire. See the video and read some related comments on the REI Facebook page...bad language warning! (Thanks Mom, for showing me that story!)

Boaty McBoatface...isn't she a BEAUT!
The lesson here? Make sure when you aim to engage the masses, you have dotted your “I’s” and crossed your “T’s”! Need we revisit the state-of-the-art, $287m polar research vessel launching in 2019? The vessel, whose naming put to internet users, is Boaty McBoatface (Rogers, 2016). So, there’s that.

Crowdsourcing, and/or customer engagement are nonetheless wonderful tools to advance a brand, solve problems, and boost sales…let us use this power wisely, however!

Remember, bad decisions make great stories. Here are some epic mascot fails. See ya for next week’s Stoll on Sports!


Aitamurto, T., Leiponen, A., & Tee, R. (June 2011). The promise of idea crowdsourcing – Benefits, contexts, limitations. Whitepaper, 1-30.

Bold Worldwide (October 2016). Why crowdsourcing is important for your sports brand. Retrieved from

Chelladurai, P. (2016). Corporate social responsibility and discretionary social initiatives in sport: a position paper.  Journal of Global Sport Management, 1, 1-15.

Holton, A. & Coddington, M. (2012). Recasting social media users as brand ambassadors: Opening the door to the first “Social Suite”. Case Studies in Strategic Communications, 1(2). Retrieved from

Howe, J. (June 2016). The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired. Retrieved from

Lewis, P. (2011). How mobile phones helped solve two murders. Retrieved from

Rogers, K. (March 2016). Boaty McBoatface: What you get when you let the internet decide. The New York Times. Retrieved from